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Labour's Angela Rayner 'no longer goes out' because of threats and was 'scared' by protest confrontation

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner has revealed to Sky News she no longer goes out socially because of threats and abuse and that she was "scared" when confronted by pro-Palestinian supporters.

The senior frontbencher said the level of intimidation had impacted on her day-to-day life and she had changed her behaviour.

People wanting to see her went to her house, she told Sky News' political editor Beth Rigby.

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She was speaking after Tory MP and justice minister Mike Freer announced he would quit parliament after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his office.

His decision has again shone a spotlight on the level of abuse targeted at politicians and the dangers they face.

It follows the murders in recent years of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess in their constituencies.

Ms Rayner and a shadow cabinet colleague recently had to be escorted by police away from a fundraising dinner in Stockport, which had been interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters angry at Labour's stance on Gaza.

She said: "Yes, I was scared and my family are scared for me. And that's why Mike has taken the decision he's taken.

"I'm not blaming individuals, but that level of discourse, when two of our MPs that were colleagues, I knew both Jo, I knew David, they were colleagues of mine, were murdered in their constituency, that does have an impact when you're constantly getting that level of abuse and threat."

She added: "If someone is shouting and then they come over at you, you don't know what's coming, I didn't know what's coming at me. And it did affect me, and it has affected me since that incident.

"And I'm not blaming that individual because they don't know the context of my inbox. They don't get the context of how MPs have to, you know, tolerate that level of abuse.

"They don't understand that if you're getting hundreds of abuse, if you're getting constant threats and then someone comes at you looking aggressive, then that can be really intimidating and scary for that MP."

She added: "Absolutely, yeah, I have changed my behaviour. I don't go out, you know, I don't, I don't have a social life. People want to see me, they come to my house. And you know, it does change what you do. It has an impact on my day to day life."

However, the politician said she was not considering leaving frontline politics as a result.

'Threat to our democracy'

Ms Rayner said: "You know, like I say, I think the right to protest, the right to disagree and robustly debate is really important in this country.

"I like to be robustly debating with colleagues in parliament as well.

"But when it tips over to threats where you have members of parliament I think that's a serious threat to our democracy and we have to take heed of that.

"And by the way, I think the majority of people in this country would never send abuse and threats to anybody.

"It's the minority that overstep the line, and I don't even think they purposely do it. And I think people need to reflect on that."

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Ms Rayner said she had "reflected" on her own behaviour after describing Conservatives as "scum" at a party conference, for which she later apologised.

She said: "I wanted people to vote them out. I want people to vote them out. That's democracy.

"What I didn't want to do is people to individually target MPs with levels of abuse or threats.

"And I certainly didn't want that to be done in any sort of incitement from myself and I reflected on that.

"And I think we all have to reflect on our own behaviour as we go on and go forth."

She added: "We have got more in common. We can robustly debate, we can disagree. That is part of a thriving democracy. But the levels of abuse and threats have to have to stop."